Nursing The Nation: Globalization, Gender, Race, State And African Immigrant Women In Health Care Work In The United States Of America

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Linda Carty


African Immigrants;Gender;Health Care Work;Immigration

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences | Sociology


This dissertation explores the labor market experiences of West African immigrant women from Nigeria, Ghana Sierra Leone and Liberia. Using qualitative research methods, this study interrogates the processes that have facilitated the entry of West African immigrant women into the nursing field in the United States. Informed by Transnational and Black Feminist analyses, this project examines their experiences and processes of identity formation in the face of racial and gendered hierarchies at work. The analysis shows how socio-economic and political conditions in the home countries, United States immigration policies, structural demands in the U.S labor market, especially gendered and racialized demands in health care and the racial hierarchies within the nursing field have create the conditions that have enabled West African women to enter the United States labor market as nurses. This project also examines the workings of informal social networks and formal businesses and entrepreneurial initiatives formed by African immigrant groups that create the conditions that allow for their location in this industry. This project finds that Africans are located in the care industry, often times in positions at the base of labor hierarchies in the field. This study has significance for immigration scholars, feminists and labor activists and provides much needed information about the socio-economic and political contexts against which African immigrants enter the United States labor market. It also draws attention the experiences of West African immigrant women and their subjective understandings of work in the health care industry. The presence of nurse staffing, placement and recruitment agencies formed by West African immigrants in the Washington D.C metropolitan area, adds to our understanding of systems of labor brokerage of health care workers in the United States. The understanding of labor migration, initiated by immigrant groups who exercise tremendous agency, withstand severe constrains and enter the United States' health care industry as professional workers provides useful ways for policy makers and activists concerned with the labor shortages in hospitals and nursing homes to channel their efforts in ways that may improve the conditions of this group.  


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